Wednesday Briefing: Lufthansa Strike Extended, Airports to Avoid This Thanksgiving

Photo by AP Photo/Michael Probst

The Lufthansa strike and a new study on the busiest airports over the holiday travel season are the travel industry headlines to watch today. 

Lufthansa Strike Extended

Pilots represented by the Vereinigung Cockpit union have voted to extend their strike from today through Thursday, according to a statement by Lufthansa Group (LHG). The move has prompted LHG to cancel 912 flights, including 82 intercontinental flights, Wednesday, out of roughly 3,000 scheduled. Tomorrow, a total of 912 flights, including 82 intercontinental flights, will be canceled. Overall, more than 215,000 passengers will be affected by about 1,800 flight cancellations on the two strike days, LHG said. 

LHG airlines Eurowings, Germanwings, SWISS, Austrian Airlines, Air Dolomiti and Brussels Airlines are not affected by the strike, with flights to and from Germany operated by those airlines proceeding as scheduled. Austrian Airlines and SWISS have also increased their capacity on flights to Germany by using larger aircraft, LHG said. 

For passengers affected by the strike in the Rhine-Main and Munich areas, LHG has booked 4,000 hotel rooms today as a precautionary measure. For passengers who cannot leave the airport due to visa restrictions, Lufthansa has set up around 400 folding cots in cooperation with Fraport. Lufthansa employees are also providing passengers in affected terminals with beverages, snacks and telecommunication options. 

Customers whose flights have been cancelled due to the strike have the one-time option to transfer or cancel their booking at no cost. Additionally, all passengers that are traveling with Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, SWISS and Brussels Airlines have the one-time option of transferring their booking for free, regardless of whether their flight has been cancelled or not. On, passengers can find additional information under ‘Current Travel Information’. For flights within Germany, travelers can also exchange their flight ticket for a Deutsche Bahn voucher. 

Lufthansa is advising its customers to check the status of their flight before traveling to the airport. 

Airports to Avoid This Thanksgiving

With the busiest Thanksgiving travel period since 2007 upon us, APRIL Travel Protection has released its list of the busiest airports for the holiday travel season. The results are based on an internal poll conducted among APRIL executives and other industry sources, taking into account statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Transportation and anecdotal experiences from frequent travelers, APRIL said. The busiest airports are:

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) - APRIL says this is partially due to its status as a major Delta hub, making it the busiest airport in the U.S. 

Miami International Airport (MIA) - APRIL picked this airport due to reported long waits when re-entering the U.S. from international destinations, especially during the holidays. Additionally, its status as an American Airlines hubs means busy traffic. More than one in five passengers are delayed on average more than 30 minutes, even during non-holiday travel periods, according to APRIL. 

LaGuardia International Airport (LGA) - While it’s not the busiest airport in New York City, APRIL picked this airport due to its two runways (down from four) and shorter-than-average runway length, leading to grounded or rerouted flights during inclement weather. An average of one in five passengers experience delays of 40 minutes or more when traveling through this airport. 

Chicago O'Hare International (ORD) - The third-busiest airport in the country after Atlanta and Los Angeles, this airport is also one of the most common connection points in the U.S. The average flight delay is slightly shorter at Chicago Midway International (MDW), but passengers are more likely to be impacted at Midway than at O’Hare. 

Northwest Arkansas Regional (XNA) - Travelers at this airport have often reported delays of over 50 minutes, according to APRIL. Close to Walmart’s corporate headquarters, this airport has also seen its passenger traffic double since 1999. 

Baltimore Washington International (BWI) - With traffic coming from both Baltimore-area residents and Washington, DC, this airport is slightly busier than DC’s Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA) and experiences significantly more passenger traffic than Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD). Passenger complaints focus on parking shuttles, particularly during peak holiday periods, APRIL said, and the U.S. Bureau of Transportation ranks BWI as the airport with the most frequent delays of 15 minutes or longer.

Palm Beach International Airport (PBI) - Many South Florida-bound travelers seek to avoid Miami's busy international airport by flying into either Ft. Lauderdale (FLL) or Palm Beach, which can overwhelm this comparatively smaller airport during the holidays, according to APRIL. 

Tropical Storm Otto May Make Thanksgiving Landfall as Hurricane

Finally, Otto, which had briefly reached hurricane status, was downgraded to a tropical storm again Wednesday morning. It could be a hurricane once more, however, when it makes landfall in Nicaragua or Costa Rica on Thanksgiving Day. The storm has already prompted Norwegian Cruise Line to modify Norwegian Pearl’s itinerary, and two more cruise ships, the Coral Princess and Oceania Regatta, are scheduled to call in the area Thursday. 

Have a tip on major travel industry news, or an inspiring story you’d like to share? Reach out at [email protected]

And keep visiting for the latest travel industry news, trends and updates.